How My Husband and I Set Limits on His Video Game Use

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We set limits on our kids’ video game time, so shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves? My spouse, in particular, cannot get enough game time. I get that everyone needs an outlet, and I let him unwind just as I expect him to do the same for me when I take some to read or play a game on my phone. 

That being said, it seems sensible to try and set limits and boundaries.  It’s what we strive for with our children, right? Shouldn’t parents model for themselves what they expect their kids to do?

A 2018 Esquire article titled, “Fortnite May Have Caused 200 Divorces This Year Alone,” emphasizes the need to create some ground rules around video game use. 

After 18 years of marriage, here are the game time rules in our house:

Work First, Play Next 

I understand that video games are fun for my spouse, but I don’t like to see him neglect his responsibilities. Before playing video games, the garbage needs to be out, dinner should be cleaned up, and the kids should be all set with homework help. Everything needs to be set for the next day, and any other specific jobs that need doing need to be done. 

Set a Time Limit

It is easy to get lost in a game and not notice the time passing. However, we are a family and it’s important for us to spend quality time together. For this reason, I ask my husband to set a time limit and stick to it. 

Watch the Language

Messing up in a video game can elicit some four-letter words. Even if he’s wearing headphones, little ears can hear whatever comes out of my husband’s mouth and repeat it. Therefore, I ask him to make an effort not to swear while playing video games. 

Separate but Equal

My spouse has his own space where he can go to play on a TV just as nice as what is in our living room. This way, the rest of us can enjoy the other TV or leave it off for some peace and quiet.

Now that our kids are teens, there is way less passive aggression on my part when he heads downstairs to play.  I actually enjoy having my own time and space because I am no longer stopping sibling arguments or having to constantly chase little ones. 

The biggest lesson I have learned is the value of open communication. If video games are a problem in your house or boundaries are being ignored, don’t let the resentment build up. Talk about it and come up with solutions you both agree on. 

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Tracy owns Safe Spaces, a consulting and training firm that focuses on building resilient families, communities and organizations (www.sfspcs.com). She is also an Authorized Facilitator and Certified Instructor with Darkness to Light, www.d2l.org, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. Tracy grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education and most recently as a Public Educator for a child abuse prevention non-profit. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to a 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Self-care includes getting to know her new community, having lunch with friends, pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family.

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